Page:Devonshire Characters and Strange Events.djvu/24
attention and became a connoisseur not in apples only, but in the qualities of cyder as already intimated.
To a branch of this family belonged Sir John Stowford, Lord Chief Baron in the reign of Edward III, who built Pilton Bridge over the little stream of the Yeo or Yaw, up which the tide flows, and over which the passage was occasionally dangerous. The story goes that the judge one day saw a poor market woman with her child on a mudbank in the stream crying for aid, which none could afford her, caught and drowned by the rising flood, whereupon he vowed to build the bridge to prevent further accident. The rhyme ran:—
Yet Barnstaple, graced though thou be by brackish Taw,
Camden asserts that Judge Stowford also constructed the long bridge over the Taw consisting of sixteen piers. Tradition will have it, however, that towards the building of this latter two spinster ladies (sisters) contributed by the profits of their distaffs and the pennies they earned by keeping a little school.
I was travelling on the South Devon line some years ago after there had been a Church Congress at Plymouth, and in the same carriage with me were some London reporters. Said one of these gentry to another: "Did you ever see anything like Devonshire parsons and pious ladies? They were munching apples all the time that the speeches were being made. Honour was being done to the admirable fruit by these worthy Devonians. I was dotting down my notes during an eloquent harangue on 'How to Bring Religion to Bear upon the People' when chump, chump went a parson on my left; and the snapping of jaws on apples, rending off shreds for mastication, punctuated the periods of a bishop who spoke next. At an